I have noticed that some trains have plug sockets installed, presumably for commuters to use to charge their devices etc.

However, some trains seem to have these all over the place, while others have none.

  1. Is there a general rule for which trains and services provide this facility, and can they be used for free? Thinking just UK.

  2. (for bonus) Thinking about services in the EU.

  • 6
    This has the potential to turn into a big list answer collection. For Germany, all ICE trains and the newer generation of InterCity trains and all regional trans in certain areas (e.g. Werdenfels-Takt) provide sockets at every seat, the older InterCity generation and regional trains in certain other areas provide them at some seats (typically groups of four with tables) while most regional trains do not provide any at all. – Jan Jun 3 '16 at 11:59
  • It is not only going to be a big list, it will also be a list needing changes or updating all the time as new trains get sockets where older trains do not have them. – Willeke Aug 28 at 4:23

Generally, new and longer-distance trains will, older suburban ones won't. Quite a few have them in first class, but not in standard.

CrossCountry Voyager trains have power available in most seats, and a nice seating plan:

Seating Plan

East Midland have power on their 'Meridian' trains but not their HSTs - link

South West Trains don't generally - it appears that some of their carriages do (the non-first-class driving cars of the class 444 units at least), but it's not publicised...

Virgin West Coast

Super Voyager have power at all window seats.

Pendolino First Class have power at all window seats.

Pendolino Standard Class have power at window seats with tables.

Seating Plan

Virgin East Coast

Seats with tables have power (all first class seats have tables) link

  • East Midlands have plug sockets in first class on their HSTs – George Jun 14 '17 at 7:30

UK answer.

Fast long distance "intercity" trains and some newer "regional" trains tend to have sockets in the seating areas for the passengers to use, these are usually these are often labeled something like "laptops and mobile phones only" reflecting their intended use. Local and "regional" trains are less likely to have them. There is no charge for using them. The sockets are standard BS1363 ("type G") sockets. Note that the sockets frequently have metal face-plates. Some dodgy travel adapters have been known to cause short circuits when used with metal faced sockets.

Socket locations and quantity vary between train operators and models but as a general rule seats with tables are more likely to have them than those without and seats in first class are more likely to have them than those in standard class. Usually there is one socket for a pair of seats but some older coaches (not sure if any of these are still in service) had one socket per table (a table normally has four seats).

You also get sockets that are not intended for public use and are labeled as such. Often in the back of luggage racks and similar locations. Sometimes people use them anyway and sometimes this gets them into trouble (though from what I can gather most of the time they get away with it). Some of these sockets also have warnings that voltage and frequency may vary......

Some of the most recently refurbished trains have USB charging in addition to the "type G" sockets. It also seems that at least some "EMR regional" trains have USB charging points but not mains sockets.

  • 3
    The "not for public use" sockets tend to be intended for use while stationary at a depot or station for cleaning purposes and as such while in motion the voltage and frequency may well vary (especially the voltage, with varying in the line voltage and demands from the traction motors in the case of electric stock or with varying alternator output on diesel stock). – gsnedders Jun 5 '16 at 21:44
  • Some trains provide USB power sockets, as well as the usual type G. – vclaw Jun 30 '16 at 2:51

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